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Old January 24th, 2003, 10:58 PM   #1
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Audio advice for 1st wedding

I am a new vx2000 owner and am one the verge of my 1st wedding. Currently, I can only afford to spend a couple hundred dollars on some sort of mic attachment or setup. Should i go with wireless or an add-on? The wedding will probably take place in a medium sized church, and a reception at some banquet-type restaurant.
Unfortunately, this has allhappened rather quickly, so i might not know the details of location til the last minute... and the possible gig could be in two weeks. I need to buy quickly, and learn a simple and effective audio set-up. thanks, in advance.
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Old January 26th, 2003, 06:58 PM   #2
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I suppose you don't want to hear you don't have the money to buy what you need for the wedding audio.

You really need a wireless lav or a MD recorder and Lav. Either solution costs more than $200 for a decent solution.

What you can do is rent a good wireless lav for under $200 from a sound shop. Either on-line or in-person, depending on where you live.

Just a piece of advice, James. You are taking on the responsibility for documenting a once-in-a-lifetime event for the bride and groom. It is apparent from your questions that you don't know what you are getting in to here. If I were you, I'd advise the B&G that this is your first time and you are likely to not get everything they might want. Or you may screw it up. It happens. If they don't mind or they are friends, continue on.

If you do have problems and they care about it, I hope you have insurance that covers this type of problem.

For certain, attend the rehersal and ask the coordinator for a list of all of the activities in the wedding. Frequently they go through the rehersal but don't do the rose exchange or the kissing of the mothers. Even when you expect these types of surprises, problems occur. The last time this happened to me, the Officiator would not wear my backup MD recorder and the groom walked away while she was talking about the rose presentation. Fortunately, I had a shotgun aimed at the wedding party and was able to isolate the words the wireless missed.
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Old January 26th, 2003, 08:37 PM   #3
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I appreciate your technical advice, sincerely. I have been researching for 24 hours since i posted my message on this website and have learned a ton. I actually have found answers to 90% of my question thru the use of higly helpful forums and articles before i revieved your response.
However, i do not appreciate the lecture, especially since you don't know my specific situation. For example, did you know that i'm doing this for Free? No charge, not even for tapes Did you know that i have seeked out a handful of professionally-documented weddings and studied the techniques of each videographer?
I was hoping that this forums's website could get me started, so that i could be fully prepared in the end. I don't appreciate you sternly questioning my seriousness or attentiveness to the gravity of a wedding day. You don't know me personally. Good day.
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Old January 26th, 2003, 09:06 PM   #4
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i really don't think Mike was lecturing, only warning on the gravity of the event and trying to give you a heads up. if you're looking for help, try not to offend arguably the most helpful person on the boards. i'd sooner do a commercial then a wedding video. brides are nuts and maybe that's all that Mike meant. i'm married, and my wife was a nutter for about 2 months before the event. cheers.
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Old January 26th, 2003, 09:35 PM   #5
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I wasn't trying to offend anyone.... after going thru an enormous amount of helpful and generous threads at this website over the last 24 hours, i was kinda surprised by the presumptuous nature of Mike's response...and offended myself.
Being a newbie i understand that i am temporarily ignorant to a certain subject, but isn't that the point of asking dumb questions? I had to start somewhere. I understand that some questions get asked a million times, but that doesn't mean that the questionairre is as dumb as his question.
Peace.
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Old January 27th, 2003, 12:56 AM   #6
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I think Mike was just being honest based on the information YOU provided. You just bought the camera, have no idea what mic to use or even the venue you will be shooting in and it is your first wedding. From that information alone I would recommend the same thing. Even if you are shooting for free the B&G won't care, if you miss the shot, you miss the shot. It's a hard business to get into and is almost completely word of mouth. To think you can just buy a camera and go in blind will hurt you more than you think. It isn't a trade you learn from reading on the internet. You have to KNOW you gear so well that you can make any adjustment on it without even looking or thinking about it because inevitably something will go wrong just when they are cutting the cake or giving the kisses. Professional photographers that do weddings spend a fortune on gear (about 10 times that of a VX2000) and will know anything you ask about it. Most "wedding" photographers I know trained for an average of a year before they went solo and they don't even have to worry about sound.
I hope you don't get too defensive from everyone's remarks because I am sure they are just trying to help you out. It is a high stress event for everyone involved and I don't envy you (or any wedding professional) because it only takes one small thing to spoil the day and you don't really get to do a take 2.

So having said that I can recommend a little Sony Lav mic that runs about $100-$120, it isn't the highest quality but is decently clean (with fresh batteries) and inexpensive enough to buy a few and keep them as backups. The model number is WCS-900. They are very decent but I would still invest in a good shotgun (Sennheiser K6ME66) and a good wireless lav mic (Shure UP1493UA).

Best of luck!
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Old January 27th, 2003, 02:22 AM   #7
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No one doubt that you can do a fine job shooting the wedding, James. As you stated, we doesnīt know you, so maybe you are an experienced video grapher. The most importent thing in the end is that you know your camcorder and can make good video. But, as you said yourself, this is your first time doing a wedding and that tells a lot. We are all beginners the first time we shoot a new kind of an event, and should listen to them with more experience. When they give their advice itīs usually based upon all the situations you can run into, the problems and how you can prepare yourself for them or at least solve them in a hurry. Even if you are a good video grapher, it doesnīt necessarily mean that you are prepared for all kind of situations. I guess thatīs why you ask for an advice in the first place.

I have been there and I have done it, and the first time was more like a nightmare to me. The event was my brothers wedding and I was invited of course, but it didnīt seem like it, because I was busy the whole day getting the shots I wanted. I hope you are not one of the guests, because you should prepare yourself not to enjoy the wedding as one. In my case I had only one camcorder and very little equipment, so I really had to prepare well to get all the shots. Looking back now, I can see a lot of mistakes i did. Some because of little experience, some because of lack of equipment and some because I hadnīt prepared myself well enough for all the eventualities. I really would have appreciated a community like this back then, giving me the opportunity to getting some advices from the more experienced.

Luckily in my case was that they hadnīt prepared themselves for any video from the event at all, so if I had messed it up there hadnīt been any law suits. The video wasnīt so bad, but itīs not a work I am very proud of either.

Based on this, my best advice is to listen to them with more experience and learn. Donīt get offended, because they mean well and thatīs why they have used some of their time to give you an answer, and just for the record: Mike is absolutely right. Finally, in the end itīs up to you who you listen to.

I wish you all the best, James, and good luck with your 1st wedding video.

Ivan
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Old January 27th, 2003, 10:33 AM   #8
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First Wedding

I can speak from recent experience. I filmed my niece's wedding last month, my first venture into wedding/event videography. I have had a lot of experience with videography with church and school, but not with weddings. I knew well in advance (6 months) and did research (books, videos, boards like this), upgraded my equipment (VX200, Samson Wireless Mic System), and practiced, practiced, practiced. Attended the rehersal, talked extensively with the wedding coordinator, and the bride and groom. I had another relative using a second camera (he is a professional videographer) and a third stationary camera.

Nothing, however, nothing prepared me for the lightening speed of trying to capture a live event. First, the bridesmaids took too long getting ready, so my prewedding shots were abbreviated, and by the time I got to the chapel the groomsmen were dressed and the photographer was waiting to take pictures. so no prewedding groomsmen. Next, setting up in the chapel was fast and furious. I thought I was in big trouble with five minutes to go- the VX2000 would not pass through the sound from the wireless mic on the groom. I knew something was funny because the sound meter was registering recording levels, but the monitoring headphones were getting zilch. So I had to make a quick decision- I ripped off the receiver and ran to the other camera (VX1000) and set it up there, which worked. Later I discovered my rookie mistake was that I turned down the volume of the camera on the LCD screen so I would not disturb the wedding without realizing that the control also muted the headphones.

Then the wedding started. It was in a beautiful small chapel on a mountain side, with lots of windows. The ceremony was at 4 pm and the winter late afternoon sun was beaming through the windows and striking the altar exactly where the bride was going to stand. In rehersal we realized the problem and I thought I had found the right exposure setting. But the rehersal was 20 minutes later than the real deal and the sun was slightly different for the wedding. The wedding planner had even orchestrated the vows so that the bride would move out of the sun, but of course the bride had other things on her mind and forgot. The bright sun cut her in two pieces at the mouth, with the mouth and below as bright as it gets, and the rest of her face dark like in the shadows. I had to make quick decision on which to set the exposure for. I chose the eyes, which left the rest of the bride with a alien glow. Whats worse is that the lcd monitor was no substitute for a TV monitor and the exposure even for the face was not the best.

Luckily, I got great sound and the second and third cameras gave me choices for some of the worst shots from the main camera.

Moral: weddings can be unpredictable and preparation cannot completely substitute the experience of getting several wedding under your belt.
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Old January 27th, 2003, 11:13 AM   #9
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James,

I'm sorry you mistook advice for a 'stern lecture.'

You would probably be even more upset if those on this forum kept quiet and you had problems that advice would head off.

Even though you are not going to be paid to shoot the wedding, the B&G still may get mad if you don't do a good job. It's the nature of the beast. Weddings are very emotional times for everyone, including the videographer.

If the B&G are forewarned that you are doing this for the first time, then you have some defense if they are displeased. But not completely.

BTW, the wireless that was suggested in this thread is sometimes good, sometimes bad. I used one on my first wedding and the cell phones in the audience interferred with it. I've also used the same system in Javits Center in NYC and not had a problems with drop-outs and interferrence. It's main problem is that it is low power and the lav microphone isn't the best quality.

I shot my first wedding because the Chief of Police 'really' wanted me to do it. He is my best government customer and I couldn't say no. I told him I hadn't ever shot a wedding and he said he didn't care, he wanted me to do it anyway.

I didn't know enough to attend the rehersal and yup, you guessed it, I missed a person that got up and read a poem. Visibly I got him on tape. But the sound was a gonner. So I ended up scrolling the text left to right on the screen with him mumbling in the background.

The wireless delivered flawed audio with little zapping sounds every few seconds for a short period. With a lot of editing I was able to remove most of the'zaps' and substitute room tone.

I've learned to take 2 or three of everything to weddings. Likely as not, I use all 2 or 3 to cover those last minute changes that they didn't rehearse. Especially sound.

I run a wireless (soon to go to 2 systems) plus a MD recorder on the Officiant and sometimes a stand-alone microphone feeding a second camera (or third) just to make certain I don't miss words, music, or whatever. Especially if they have live music.

Weddings are the most stressful thing a videographer can take on. I'd shot lots of police video, live television, training tapes, expostions, etc., and nothing comes close to the stress of that first wedding. Or the second. Or the third. There is no second chance, you are not in control, and at the time everyone involved would rather you weren't there.

Good luck, I hope they love the video.
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Old January 27th, 2003, 03:05 PM   #10
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Thanks.
Due to budget constraints, i decided on the MD...but now i am finding a compatability problem between Macs and minidisc recorders in general. It seems they are all for PC!(at least what i've found so far).
By the way, there is a wonderfully informative PDF on "Audio in Houses of Worship" at the Shure.com.(for all my newbie peers). It was a well-rounded introduction for me.
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Old January 27th, 2003, 08:25 PM   #11
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What kind of problem are you having with the mini-disk. I use mine with my Mac but I typically run it in from the optical output of the Mini-Disk through the USB device and record it into my Mac with something like "Sound Studio".
There are a few little steps to take but it isn't too terible. Feel free to email me if you would like to discuss it in depth. You can find my email by clicking my profile button at the bottom of this post.

Good Luck


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Old January 28th, 2003, 10:29 AM   #12
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i've been using an older sony MD with my macintosh without trouble. the one thing i've seen the newer MD's have for PC's is the direct USB connection, but if you get a Griffin iMic you can get a pretty clean signal from your MD into your mac. if you want to get a pure digital transfer, you can get something like a USBPre ( www.usbpre.com ) and plug S/PDIF from the MD into the USBPre into usb on your mac. the USBPre is about $600 but its probably the most reliable piece of hardware i've ever owned.
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Old January 28th, 2003, 11:36 AM   #13
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Weddings do happen at the speed of light and can be very unprdictable even with the "best" of advance planning. I have been doing them for quite a while and the only thing I can compare a wedding to is my time in the service 35 years ago, in a place far far away. Some of you know where I mean. I was in the infantry and we all said there were hours of boredom, moments of terror! Weddings are very much the same! Well maybe not as bad (maybe worse) but remember, in weddings and war, keep a cool head, react and respond, and keep shooting no matter what. Remember the life you save might be yours!
Have fun, do your best
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